For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


PHILADELPHIA, June 3, 2009— The Free Library of Philadelphia and special guests kicked off this year’s Summer Reading program—Be Creative @ Your Library—on June 3 at 10:00 a.m. at the Parkway Central Library with craft stations, storytelling, and surprise appearances.

Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon opened the event by thanking sponsors and welcoming co-lead sponsor representatives Douglas R. Smith, Vice President of External Affairs at Verizon Pennsylvania, and Michele Lawrence, Community Banking President for Delaware Valley Central at Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company. Media sponsor Radio One was represented by National Sales Manager E. Steven Collins, and students from Bache-Martin Elementary School were on hand to learn about the lifelong importance of reading. As the kickoff ended, the Phillie Phanatic showed off his famous dance moves, children made crafts with staff from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, were treated to storytelling, and, of course, signed up for Summer Reading!

Running from June 15 through August 7, the Summer Reading program supports literacy among children and teens by encouraging them to read during the summer months—reading five or more books has been shown to help students maintain age-appropriate reading levels. More than 65,000 students and adults participate in the Summer Reading program—last year, 16 percent more joined the program than the previous year, and the number of adult readers doubled. Special events such as magic shows, art programs, and games will be held at library locations throughout the city during the Summer Reading program.

New this year, the Free Library will offer a bi-lingual program at 11 branches selected for their large Spanish speaking populations. Telemundo, the Spanish language TV station, partnered with the Free Library to translate materials and provide additional promotional and programmatic opportunities.

“Summer Reading may officially begin on June 15, but we have been preparing since the launch of the 10,000 Books for Children in April,” said Library President and Director Siobhan Reardon. “Without the 10,000 new books on our shelves, Summer Reading would not be the success it promises to be this year. We owe many thanks to the community members and organizations—including Friends of the Free Library, Target, and Barnes and Noble—who contributed to our book drive, as well as Verizon and Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company, co-lead sponsors of this year’s Summer Reading program.”

From June 5 through June 7, the Barnes and Noble Rittenhouse Square location will host a book fair to benefit the book drive—the Free Library will receive a percentage of sales from patrons who present a voucher (available at or mention code 540666 at the register.

Summer Reading is additionally supported by the PKG Foundation, the Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers, AMETEK Foundation, Inc., Patricia Kind Family Foundation, UGI Corporation, and ACME Markets. In-kind support comes from Herr’s Foods, Inc., Auntie Anne’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Clementon Amusement Park, Thunderbird Bowling Centers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rita’s Italian Ice, the Philadelphia Phillies, Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, the National Constitution Center, Hard Rock Café Philadelphia, VILLA, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Academy of Natural Sciences; Telemundo and Radio One are official media sponsors.

“At Wachovia, we know that the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Summer Reading Program is a vital part of a child’s continuing education and we are proud to be a lead sponsor of this summertime tradition for a 17th consecutive year,” said Michele Lawrence, Wachovia’s Community Banking President for Delaware Valley Central. “Literacy skills are one of the building blocks of success in school and in life, and we are proud to offer Wachovia’s financial and volunteer support to help the Summer Reading Program reach as many students as possible.”

“Education is the key that can unlock a brighter future for every child,” said Douglas R. Smith, Vice President of External Affairs at Verizon Pennsylvania. “Verizon recognizes the diverse array of resources and activities available to all who walk through the doors of the Free Library of Philadelphia and its neighborhood branches. We are proud to play a role in this year’s Summer Reading program to offer children and families, throughout the city, a safe and enjoyable learning experience that will provide valuable skills to help put them in a stronger position to reach their full potential.”

Students have been walking through the doors of the Free Library to read during the summer since 1906, when the Library began the Vacation Reading Club. Summer Reading took its current form in 1994, and recently added Summer Reading for Adults and an online program. Summer Reading offers readers the chance to win prizes by reading books and moving forward on a special playing board.

For more information and to sign up for the Summer Reading program, visit, call 215-686-5372, or visit your local branches.

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.




Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850